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BMW 3-Series Run Flat Tires



  • snowmakersnowmaker Posts: 2
    Huh, very disappointed 325 xiT 15K miles on ContiProContac's,
    cruising down the highway, the thing sounds like our old 60's International dump truck.

    I'd say BMW has a problem with all of these RFT's, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Inside of front tire cupped, just like on a car with worn shocks.

    Inside makes sense 'cause of negative camber, ........ cupping? IMHO the shocks are a bad match for the stiff sidewalls and cannot absorb the vibration. But who am I to speculate, but sure would like a better answer than "replace the tires". :mad:
  • rsdarchrsdarch Posts: 3
    I have a 2006 530xi with sport suspension. Really made a mistake because I live in Manhattan and the potholes are killing my tires. 3 flats in the last 6 weeks. Each time I get a flat I need to take it to BMW. I never know which tire is flat and the sensor needs to be reset. I have a donut and thought I would put all-seasons on, but BMW says they won't be any better_ also low profile. I then asked if I could put 16" rims on so I could get a little bit more rubber, but no one seems to know the answer to that. One guy at BMW said that if I make any change to the tire or rim the sensor will stay on all the time. I hate that sensor. These run-flats have the obvious benefit of letting you drive after the flat, but what's the point if you can't figure out which tire has gone and you need to pay BMW prices every time it goes flat. Any advice?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I dug into this a little and I don't believe that there are any 16" wheels currently made that will fit the 530xi. Said another way, the smallest wheel/tire combo that you can put on your car is 17" wheels with 225/50 R17 tires on it.

    FWIW, I drove my 2002 530i in Manhattan several times per week and never had a problem with that car, however, when I had a 1995 Passat GLX I went through seven tires and five wheels compliments of the Manhattan pot holes. :-/

    Analyzing this a little further, the tires mounted on the three cars in question are as follows:

    Tire Size ------ Sidewall --- Type --- Vehicle
    215/50 R15 ---- 4.232" ---- GFTs -- 1995 VW Passat GLX
    235/45 R17 ---- 4.163" ---- GFTs -- 2002 BMW 530i SP
    225/50 R17 ---- 4.429" ---- RFTs -- 2006 BMW 530xi

    Hmmm, interesting. The Passat actually had a taller sidewall than the 530i and yet the 5er didn't have a single problem. That said, your 530xi has even taller sidewalls than the Passat. I'm thinking that the RFTs might could well be a smoking gun here. In the end, even if switching to GFTs doesn't fix your tire damage problems (and it might), they'll sure be a whole lot easier (and less expensive) to replace when damage does occur.

    Not sure this helps, but there it is.

    Best Regards,
  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,608
    Is this a true sport suspension on the xi or is it a different tuning than the 530i?

    My thought is that the RFT/sport suspension combo cooks the tires. My neighbor's C-70 Volvo cooked tires in Manhattan and many rims as well!

  • nclarrynclarry Posts: 2
    I couldn't agree more with you. I had the same experience with Bridgestone Turanza EL42 tires. The BMW 330I began making noise shortly after I took it home, and it only got louder. Upon contacting Hendrick BMW in Charlotte at 11,500 miles, I was told that they would be happy to replace the tires at a cost of $1,304 with BMW sharing half the cost. I then contacted BMW Consumer Relations both via e-mail and telephone and was generally blown off. BMW will not respond to my e-mails nor return my telephone calls. What a way to treat someone who just bought a compact car for $42,000. :mad:
  • bruceomegabruceomega Posts: 250

    You mentioned run flat tire. Do you have the optional 18" wheels with 245-40/18 RFT performance tires? Or do you have the standard 17" GFTs?

    If you happen to have the 18" RFTs, then my guess is you would be better off replacing them with the standard 17" wheels and tires.

  • cherodcherod Posts: 3
    I need help, I own a 2006 330i with sport pkg and need to replace the tires that have only 15,000 miles on it. I hate the Bridgestone RFT'S :mad: . I would like to know if i can put non-RFT'S (PIRELLI'S) Trying to make sure the suspension isn't going to mess up the ride. THANKX!
  • adethieradethier Posts: 16
    my perspective is that you should get away from RFTs. Get normal tires and add a donut in the trunk. Something BMW should've done in the first place!!
    Based on our past experience, you do not have 100 Miles when it goes flat and there will be a big chance only BMW will have your size in stock (~$500 installed). If you're lucky the next flat won't happen too far away from home or on a weekend trip...
  • idoc2idoc2 Posts: 78
    In the June 2007 Consumer Reports a review of RFT's declares that "...the safety benefits can out way the downsides". I think most of those who participate in this forum would strongly disagree. Aside from the defective nature of the tires supplied for the BMW 3 Series (Bridgestone EL42's) the downsides include:

    2)Lack of availability should you develop a flat on a trip away from a major metro region
    3)Inability to repair
    4)Poor ride quality

    Consumer Reports has a powerful voice which I believe reverberates strongly among auto manufactures including BMW. Unfortunately, I suspect the support they have just thrown behind RFT's will ultimately embolden BMW to continue to supply RFT's on their new cars.

    Those who read this forum and feel strongly about this issue should consider sending a letter to Consumer Reports reiterating all the downsides.

  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    Go ahead and do it. did it to my 06 and it improved the ride and handling considerably.
  • nkeennkeen SE PennaPosts: 316
    Those who read this forum and feel strongly about this issue should consider sending a letter to Consumer Reports reiterating all the downsides.

    I've got to say that I like the way my 325i ZSP handles with its 17" runflats. In fairness, Blueguy, who swapped to GFTs on his 330i, has done considerable grumbling about the softness and lack of response of that car compared to his previous E46. I respectfully offer (Blueguy clearly knows his cars) that that may be because the car is tuned for run-flats. I know, I can't substantiate the detail of what that means in engineering terms -- I just know that the manufacturer clearly states such. I have read at least one post on a mini forum stating just such a switch to GFTs ruined a Cooper S's handling.

    I do like the overall feel of my car, and my liking for it improves with time, unlike my old Acura TL, which I could not wait to get out of. I like the softwall stiffness -- the fact that there's no rollover during hard cornering. However, the downside is that there is little give over sharp knocks. The biggest plus for me is reducing the affect of a high speed blowout, and reducing the risk associated with a flat when navigating shoulderless NYC parkways. Also, changing alloys can be a pain, or impossible without a hefty implement to knock the wheels off, as they can bond to the steel hub through electrolysis. I understand that there are things you can do to prevent this, but in the real world....
  • blueguydotcomblueguydotcom Posts: 6,257
    just know that the manufacturer clearly states such. I have read at least one post on a mini forum stating just such a switch to GFTs ruined a Cooper S's handling.

    I find that impossible to believe. The 07 Cooper S with RFTs is decent but my 07 Cooper S tends to skip and tramline with the standard 17 RFTs performance tires. It's not as bad as the e90s roadfeel but I can't fathom how a grippier, lighter, more pliant tire with a real sidewall would "ruin" handling.

    Eventually, I'll make the switch on my Cooper and know for certain...
  • I’m running non RFT’s on my E91 330d SE touring (UK non-sport package). Sure the suspension is a bit softer, but definitely better and much safer and predictable.

    I come from a 540i M-Tech suspension touring and would have had sport suspension as first choice on my 330d, but the harsh ride and skitter was far too punishing to use on Highland roads.

    I’ve added Koni FSD dampers and now have a car that rides much more compliant and with more control over undulations and in cornering.

    I’ve tried the RFT’s on this setup and find it much better, has stopped the crashing, but still harsh. RFT’s are not in the same league as non RFT’s on my model of BMW.

    A couple of weeks a go I had a brand new LCI (facelift) 535d M-sport Touring, for a week, on my local roads. What a transformation… BMW have now succeeded in giving us back the real BMW drive. This car is on 18” RFT’s but I’d challenge anyone to know, without reading the tyre label. The car ran as compliant and planted on the road as my 540i touring, on 17” normal rubber.

    Dealers in this country are gaining knowledge that 17” wheels are not the best size for E90/1 cars. 18” appear to give the better ride and revised suspension settings, (October 2006 in the UK) has improved the ride quality. I had a day with an E92 coupe on the same suspension set up as my car, and running 18” wheels, what an improvement on a 2007 build model.

    I’m still not sure BMW and the tyre makers have sorted the wear problems, we will see.

  • cdnpinheadcdnpinhead Forest Lakes, AZPosts: 4,039
    Interesting. Thanks.

    As I ponder acquiring my first BMW, it's good to realize that the pioneers (you, among others) are enduring the agony that is the RFT development process. It appears to have been, let's say, ugly.

    If I lease my next car (who'd a thunk), I'll pull the RFT's off after 5-10K miles & install a set of GFT's. I won't lease the thing unless I plan to stick with the brand for a number of years, so I can put the dreaded RFT's back on the car before the lease expires (& save the GFT'S for the next BMW) or sell them to someone on e-bay if I buy the car at the end of the lease (not likely, since the NA diesels should be getting mature about then).
  • It's being the 'pioneers' that really gets me. I'm a BMW guy, it's in the blood, has been for 30-years. I feel let down.

    There are still issues I want to see addressed.

    I still need a spare wheel. Wear that is acceptable. Tyres that work below 10-degrees centigrade,where the present ones become rocks.

  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,608
    I understand your concern but I really never let the EL42's bother me. The dealer I purchased from handled the initial 2-line e-mail voicing my concern with exceptional conviction to fix the problem to my satisfaction and changed the tires to the Conti's with 12K miles and no charge.

    I know that does not change the issue but the conti's are a different animal and are wearing so even I hardly notice after 7K miles. The EL42 wear at this point made me think there might be issues with the alignment.

    I rotated the conti's at 6K (the dealer had to rotate one side because I stripped one lug nut with a stupid craftsman 12-point socket!) Guess what they charged me? I was expecting at least $30-$40....but the SR said just give us $2 for the lug nut.

    I have NO problem so far with these new tires and I am very happy so far. I can easily see 20K on this tire and beyond but I will report periodically.

    You can do what you feel best but I would not base a buy decision on the RFT or not. Your solution is fine and I considered it but I am not sorry I stayed the course.

    BTW, it will be extremely hard for me NOT to do business with this dealer. Until this point in my lifetime dealer experience, this is nirvana to me.

  • nkeennkeen SE PennaPosts: 316
    ...and the RE050As on the US market ZSP cars are good in my opinion -- predictable breakaway and certainly not dangerous in any way. Next time around I'll probably try the Contis or the Pirellis for comparison. The impression I have of Contis in general (GFTs) is that they tend to be a little squishier, softer side-walled, more ride oriented than competitors in a given segment. The Bridgestones are all business.

    And Highlandpete, I have driven extensively in the UK (grew up in Derby) and know what you mean about the very different road conditions -- frequent camber changes, hot rolled tar versus loose chipping-on tar surfaces etc. Overall, rural driving there is a delight, despite the best efforts of the miserable, treasonous nanny crew running the place now to put a stop to it.
  • I've used Bridgestone tyres before and have no issues with using a Bridgestone tyre, just the deficiences of these particular RF Tyres.

    I've had a Bridgestone field engineer in my car and he comfirmed my opinion, that the tyres were safe, but also agreed I had issues in using them in my driving environment.

    The good news is the latest cars are so much better, just heard today of another 3-series driver... his new 325 is so much better than the previous car also on RFT's. A 335i touring driver is over the moon with the latest ride quality on RFT's, after removing the RFT's from previous BMW's.

  • circlewcirclew Posts: 8,608
    Great feedback from both of you guys! Thanks.

    I always figured that the technology would improve over time. Perhaps this is some advanced indication. Time will tell.

  • 1599djm1599djm Posts: 1

    I just picked up a new 2007 328I with these bridgstone run flats, I hate them I have only had the car a week and went back to the dealer the other day I have 400 miles on it. I seem to get a wobbel in the steering wheel like I have a bad tire or out of balance tire they tell me this is common and as the tire warms up it goes away what did you do to correct this

    Dave at hr425@aol. com in Rochester, NY
  • nkeennkeen SE PennaPosts: 316
    Flatspotting (vibration when cold due to the tire becoming out-of-round after sitting in one spot for an extended period) was (is?) a common complaint with GFT EL42s but I'm surprised it's an issue with RFTs, with their stiffer sidewalls. Sounds more like an out-of-balance issue, perhaps. Does the problem go away after a few miles of driving? -- I'm not clear from your post whether it does go away or the dealer says that it will go away.
  • adethieradethier Posts: 16
    The tire will get worst as the thread wears. BMW dealers know the issues with their tire offerings and they'll tell you anything to get you to stay away once you've made the purchase. Makes sense. The best comment i heard from the thread was to change wheels and get regular sport ties and thrown a donut spare in the trunk. Make sure to read our experience with run-flats on our 3-series
    Good luck!
  • pauls4pauls4 Posts: 2
    I’m running non RFT’s on my E91 330d SE touring (UK non-sport package). Sure the suspension is a bit softer, but definitely better and much safer and predictable.

    Can I ask what tyres you're using now, and are you using the standard wheels?
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    While I cannot speak as to which tires he's using, I can tell you that factory wheels work perfectly well with GFTs. Said another way, unless you're talking about the disastrous Honda/Michelin PAX RFT scheme, RFTs and GFTs have the same bead, use the same wheels and are mounted and dismounted the same way.

    If you have a car with RFTs and you want to try running it with GFTs, I suggest you look at a set of Kumhos in the same size as your factory tires. They're inexpensive, get good marks from those that use them and are available in a wide variety of sizes, tread patterns and rubber compounds.

    Best Regards,
  • pauls4pauls4 Posts: 2
    Thanks (being in the UK, I'm not sure what will be available here, which is why I was asking highlandpete).

    I've just got a second hand 320d with the Conti RFTs on - when I test drove it it was fine, but it was tramlining awfully when driving back from the dealer :(

    I'm probably going to try it for a bit more to see if I can get used to it, but if not, I'll put on some GFTs and get a can of goo and inflater like most other cars without a spare do.
  • walshywalshy Posts: 1
    After reading many of the posts on this thread, I am unclear as to which models this RFT tire issue affects.
    I am interested in the 335i or xi (I live in CT).
    If I went with the xi, is this not an issue since I assume they put All Season tires on? Would you recommend the Sport option on the xi or not?
    On the i version, is it the Sport option that creates a problem with the tires or the lack of the Sport option on the i model?
    Your opinion would be appreciated.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    The 335 variants come tired in one of two ways. The 335i, 335xi and 335xi Sport Package all come shod with 225/45 R17 All-Season RFTs. The 335i Sport Package and the 335xi Sport Package with the optional Wheels package come 225/40 R18 summer performance RFTs up front and matching 255/35 R18s bringing up the rear.

    As you can see, both versions of rubber are of the RFT variety, and both have their issues. The All-Season (a misnomer in and of itself) tires have had significant noise issues from premature cupping and have even been subject to a kind of a hidden recall where dealers have been authorized to replace noisy tires for some money or no money depending upon the miles on the OEM rubber. While the summer performance rubber hasn't had that particular problem, there have been complaints of jittery control when cornering on anything less than new pavement. Then of course there is the wear issue with performance tires of any make, basically plan on replacing the rubber every 15,000 miles and consider yourself lucky indeed if you get over 20,000 miles on them.

    Me personally, I'd order a 335i SP, put five to ten thousand miles on the factory rubber, rip them off and store them in the basement and replace them with a nice set of identical sized GFTs. For the winter time I'd order a set of winter rubber along with a separate set of wheels. Then, as the lease was ending, I'd put the factory rubber back on and turn the car back in. In that way, I'd have a car that I could take maximum advantage of year round. ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • michael2003michael2003 Posts: 144
    Sorry if I missed it, but has anyone had any luck with replacing the OEM Bridgestones with the Pirelli PZero RFT's?
  • jenno2jenno2 Posts: 13
    If you use the GFT's does the Leather Z Space Saver spare tire work with the 335i coupe? Or perhaps another brand. The run flats are definetly turning off of the BMW, and if I can use GFT, with some type of spare, I might change my mind. I currently have a 2003 330i, sedan, with 100,000 miles and it has been great. It is getting to the point I may just keep it if the tire issue with BMW is not resolved. Too bad, the 335i is a beautiful car.
  • nkeennkeen SE PennaPosts: 316
    It is getting to the point I may just keep it if the tire issue with BMW is not resolved. Too bad, the 335i is a beautiful car.

    Have you driven the 335i with RFTs? Base or sport suspension?
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